Like Disney’s Moana, I’ve felt drawn to the water for as long as I can remember. An ’80s baby, I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid and daydreamed about being part of Ariel’s world. In my dreams, my perfect me-time escape has always involved water.
But growing up far from the ocean in Pittsburgh, Pa., all I could do was spend my summers at the pool and count the days until our annual beach vacations in the Carolinas. I dreamed of moving south and pursuing a career as a dolphin trainer or marine biologist. But by high school, I put those dreams aside for a more practical path.
Then, in my senior year, after I committed to studying journalism at a nice Ohio college that was out of state but not too far away, my parents were offered an opportunity to move to Florida for my dad’s job.
So, my parents settled into a new life in sunny Tampa Bay, and I spent my freshman year of college walking to class in the snow. It wasn’t long before I transferred to Tampa’s USF.
In my first few years in Tampa Bay, I spent lots of time enjoying the Florida lifestyle. But as life got busy, my time on the water became less and less.
In an effort to keep the water in our lives as we became parents, my husband and I moved to a home with ski lake access. But even with a lake in our backyard, finding the time to take our boat out still proved challenging.
Then one summer day, my husband saw a great deal on paddleboards at Costco. It was so great, we couldn’t pass it up. And we were sure paddleboarding would be the perfect way for us to exercise on our lake, if only we could find the time.
Finding Time for a Me-Time Escape
After my youngest child turned one, I found myself in a bit of a funk. I had a lot on my plate and was overwhelmed, especially during the holiday season. I couldn’t pull myself out of it and being an introvert at heart, I just hid.
Until one day, I decided to spend more time outside. I noticed myself starting to feel better. And then one Sunday afternoon, my husband and I found some time to paddleboard. Afterward, I was so happy. I caught myself singing and dancing to my kids’ music for days. The downhearted feelings I had were gone.
I had a lightbulb moment. The paddleboard was my happy place. My stress relief. My me-time escape. Just 30 minutes on the water left me feeling completely refreshed and better equipped to face the toddler tantrums and preschooler on a power trip waiting for me.
The introvert in me craves the quiet time. The peace. It’s not easy to take time away from your kids but I’m making a point to make time for my paddleboard now. I know I’m a better mom because of it.
I hope my story will inspire you to find your happy place, too. Don’t give in to mom guilt. Devoting time to self-care is not selfish.
What activities did you love to do before you had kids? Close your eyes and picture yourself getting away. What me-time escape do you see?